Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

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Monitoring SAP
Financial Aid SAP Status
Professional Judgment
Dependency Override

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is a set of standards for financial aid progress. Pursuant to Federal regulations, all financial aid recipients are required to meet satisfactory academic guidelines established by Central Piedmont Community College and financial aid standards of progress. The intent of this policy is to ensure that students who receive federal and state financial aid make measurable progress toward completion of a degree, certificate, or diploma program in a reasonable period of time and a reasonable number of credit hours is attempted in their program of study. The policy looks at all credit hours attempted, not only those taken while receiving financial aid. All classes count.

This policy applies to students applying for or receiving federal and state funds. To reasonably measure a student's satisfactory academic progress toward completion of his or her degree, certificate, or diploma, the student's total academic record is evaluated, regardless of whether or not they received financial aid in the past.

Federal regulations require institutions of higher education to establish minimum standards of satisfactory progress for students receiving financial aid. Students are expected to achieve certain minimum levels of progress toward the successful academic completion of course requirements for a degree, certificate, or diploma. Progress is measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. To ensure a student is making sufficient progress throughout their course of study, a maximum time frame is divided into increments. At the end of each increment (each semester), the institution determines whether the student has successfully completed a minimum percentage of work toward his or her degree, diploma or certificate for all increments completed.

As a recipient of federal or state financial aid, students have certain rights and responsibilities. Failure to fulfill any part of the agreement, as described, may result in the cancellation of a student's award and the student may be responsible for repaying any received funds.

Monitoring SAP

The Financial Aid office monitors satisfactory academic progress for all students receiving or applying for federal or state aid to ensure that they make progress toward program completion. All programs are reviewed for satisfactory academic progress at the end of each semester.

In order to measure a student’s satisfactory progress toward a degree, diploma, or certificate requirements, the student’s total academic record at Central Piedmont Community College is evaluated, whether or not the student received financial aid for the entire time of enrollment.

Evaluation Period: Student compliance with the Financial Academic Satisfactory Academic Progress policy requirements are monitored at the end of each semester.

Cumulative Credit Hours Attempted: Cumulative credit hours attempted are defined as all credit hours attempted at CPCC plus all credit hours transferred from other institutions. Attempted credits include courses with grades of "A" through “F,” “W,” “I/A,” “I/B”, “I/C,” “I/D,” “P” or “I.”

Cumulative Credit Hours Completed: Credit hours successfully completed are defined as grades “A” through “D,”, “I/A,” “I/B,” “I/C” “I/D or “P.” Credit hours not successfully completed are defined as “F” or “W.”

Audited Course: Credit hours taken for a grade of “audit” do not apply toward an associate degree, diploma, or certificate program. Therefore, credit hours with this designation are not included in determining enrollment status for financial aid or satisfactory academic progress. Students with changes in grade type of an “Audit” (AU) after the disbursement of financial aid are reviewed for an enrollment status change. This change may result in a reduction of financial aid eligibility and a balance owed to the College.

Incomplete Grades: Courses with grades of “I” (Incomplete) are considered as credit hours attempted and not completed. Students who make arrangements with the instructor to complete required course work are not required to re-register for the same class during a subsequent semester to complete the work. Any course carried forward to the next semester for completion is counted as part of the new semester enrollment status. If the “incomplete” grade resulted in placing a student on financial aid probation or suspension, the student may appeal for an Incomplete Grade, once the course is completedA student may appeal for a re-evaluation of Satisfactory Academic Progress by submitting or faxing the Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal form to the Financial Aid office at the Central Campus. If the grade becomes final before the review, the actual grade, credits attempted and credits earned are used to determine whether the student is making satisfactory progress.

Pass/Fail Grades: A grade of “P” (Pass) is used for successful completion of Developmental Math (DMA) or Developmental Reading (DRE) courses. A grade of “P” is included in a student’s SAP calculation as attempted and completed credit hours with an assigned Grade Point Average (GPA) of 4.0

A grade of “R” (Fail) is used for unsuccessful completion of DMA or DRE courses. A grade of “R” is included in a student’s SAP calculation as attempted and not completed credit hours with an assigned GPA of 0.0.

Course Withdrawals: Students who withdraw from classes officially or unofficially should understand how withdrawals affect their eligibility for financial aid as determined by the Satisfactory Academic Progress procedure. A “Withdrawal” counts as an attempted, not completed class and does not count in the Academic GPA calculation; however, it does count in the Financial Aid GPA calculation with an assigned grade point of 0.0. Students who receive federal or state aid should be aware that repeated courses and grades of “W” are included in measuring progress towards completion. Financial Aid recipients should discuss their possibility of withdrawing with a Financial Aid Officer before doing so. In cases of complete withdrawals, students may be required to repay a percentage of financial aid received for that semester. (See Return of Title IV Funds).

Withdrawn Never Attended: A grade of “WN” is an assigned grade given when a student registers for a class and never attends the course prior to the class census date. “WN” grades are not included in the SAP calculation as attempted credit hours nor assigned any type of grade points.

Dropping Classes: The final eligibility for aid is based on the number of hours for which a student is enrolled at the 10% point of the semester. For students who register and then drop classes prior to that date, eligibility for aid is RECALCULATED on their remaining hours as of the 10% point of the semester. Students who receive a financial aid payment based on more hours than those remaining as of the 10% point of the semester may be responsible for repaying a portion of any financial aid received. Dropped classes are not included in the SAP calculation as attempted credit hours or assigned any type of grade points.

Cumulative Grade Point Average: A student's cumulative grade point average should meet the minimum standards of the institution according to their degree intentions. The minimum cumulative grade point average for graduation at CPCC is 2.0.

Pace: A student is not eligible for financial aid if it is determined the student will not complete his/her program of study within the 150% timeframe. A student's pace is determined by dividing the number of cumulative hours completed by the number of cumulative hours attempted.

Developmental Studies Standards of Progress
Financial aid recipients may take a maximum of 30 credit hours in developmental coursework. Developmental courses (designated by course numbers below 100, e.g. DMA 010, DRE 096) are included in the calculation of satisfactory academic progress. Students enrolled in developmental courses must receive grades of “A,” “B,” “C”, or “P” to remain in good standing. All credit hours attempted or completed are counted towards the 30 hours of developmental course work. Developmental hours in exceeding 30 semester credit hours cannot be counted towards enrollment status for federal and state grants or for the cost of attendance for any campus-based programs or loan programs.

Repeated Courses
Students may receive aid when repeating a course that was previously failed (received a 0.0 or No pass), regardless of the number of times the course was attempted and failed. However, according to the college’s policy on Excessive I’s, F’s, and/or W’s, students are not allowed to register for courses in which they received three I's, F’s, and/or W’s without permission from the division that offers the course. Student may receive aid to repeat a previously passed course only one additional time. Students who complete any course twice with a passing grade are no longer eligible to receive aid for that course. If a student retakes a course that is not aid eligible, a recalculation of aid is computed to exclude credits for the repeated course. This rule applies whether or not the student received aid for enrollments in the course.

English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
Students may receive Federal Student Aid program funds for an EFL course. These courses are not considered developmental. EFL credit hours are included in all Satisfactory Academic Progress calculations and also are counted toward Pell Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU).

Transfer Students
Satisfactory progress for transfer students is based on the number of credit hours accepted toward their current program of study. Transfer credits used toward program requirements count when calculating completion rate. The transfer credits are included as attempted and completed hours.

Change of Majors
Students who change their major are still responsible for maintaining satisfactory academic progress in accordance with outlined procedures. A review of satisfactory academic progress is based on the student's current program of study. A student changing from an associate program to a diploma or certificate program may lose federal and state eligibility immediately upon making the change.

Summer Session
Credit hours attempted and earned during the summer session are included in the calculation of Satisfactory Academic Progress. Full-time status is the same for summer session as for fall and spring semesters (at least 12 credit hours).

Financial Aid SAP Status

Satisfactory is the status assigned to new students or returning students who meet the cumulative and semester 2.0 GPA and the 67% completion rate requirements based on calculations at the end of the term.

Following the first term of failure to maintain cumulative satisfactory academic progress, students are granted one term to regain satisfactory academic progress. This term is known as the “Warning” term. Financial aid may be received during this Warning term.

WG – Warning due to grade point average
WP – Warning due to pass rate
WB – Warning due to grade point average and pass rate.

If a student is able to regain satisfactory academic progress with courses completed successfully during the “Warning” term, the probation is lifted. Students who do not regain satisfactory academic progress are placed on “SUSPENSION” and are no longer eligible for financial aid at CPCC until their cumulative progress is again satisfactory. Students can complete the Financial Aid Appeal form if there was an extenuating circumstance beyond their control that kept the student from meeting SAP requirements.

Maximum Time Frame
Student are required to complete their program of study in a time frame not to exceed 150 percent of the published length of the program.  This will be measured in credit hours.  Transfer credit hours accepted from other institutions and evaluated in the student’s current program of study are included in the calculation of maximum time frame. Once a student reaches the 150% limit, his/her SAP status will update to Maximum Time Frame and the student will no longer be eligible for state or federal financial aid. Students can complete the Financial Aid Maximum Time Frame Appeal form if there was an extenuating circumstance beyond their control that kept the student from completing the degree within the 150 percent time frame.

After Suspension
Other than when an appeal is granted for unusual or mitigating circumstances, students can reestablish eligibility only by taking action that brings them in compliance with the qualitative and quantitative components of the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards, including the maximum timeframe.

It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of his or her Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid eligibility.

Students are notified, via their CPCC email accounts when placed on warning or suspension. Students may view their satisfactory academic progress on their MyCollege accounts. Federal Pell Grant and other types of financial assistance (depending on availability of funds) are reinstated at the beginning of the next term of attendance, if students are otherwise eligible and take necessary actions to bring them in compliance with the qualitative and quantitative components of the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards. Whether approved by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee or approved after one or more semesters of satisfactory progress, the student’s status upon reinstatement is probationary.

Probation on an Appeal
When students are reinstated by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee due to an approved appeal they are placed on probation.

Students are required to adhere to the Academic Plan given when their appeals were approved. If they do not, they are placed on Financial Aid Termination. They lose financial aid eligibility and no other appeal can be accepted until minimum SAP requirements are met.


Students may appeal the termination of financial aid by obtaining an appeal form online at and click on the Forms link and indicating in writing:

a) reasons why they did not achieve minimum standards,
b) reasons why their eligibility should not be terminated, but reinstated.

To initiate a financial aid appeal, students should complete a Financial Aid Appeals Form, print their transcript evaluation and submit it along with required supporting documentation. In addition, the appeal needs to explain and document that the situation has been resolved. Appeals are considered for circumstances that were out of the ordinary or out of a student's control. These may include:

  1. Extended student/family illness or injury
  2. Death of a relative
  3. Change of degree program

Once appeals are reviewed, the approval or denial notice is sent to the student’s CPCC email address. If the appeal is approved, the student is placed on an academic plan. To maintain eligibility, the students must meet all criteria of their academic plans.

NOTE: Students participating in the Federal Work Study program who are suspended from financial aid cannot continue working until satisfactory academic progress is re-established.

Reviewing Appeals
An Appeal Committee reviews student appeals and documentation to determine if financial aid eligibility should be reinstated. Once a decision is made, the Financial Aid Office notifies students of the decision through their CPCC email accounts. Students may review their satisfactory academic status in their MyCollege account.

Appeals are reviewed only for the current semester up to 30 calendar days into the semester starting from the first day of the semester. Appeals submitted after that time are reviewed for the following semester.

Professional Judgment

Central Piedmont Community College’s Financial Aid Office of Student Financial may take into account a student’s special circumstances to make adjustments to his or her expected family contribution for educational expenses, standard budget, and/or financial aid dependency status, as determined by federal guidelines. These adjustments only affect need-based aid. Adjustments must be reasonable and documented, and the institution is held accountable for decisions made. Indicated below are the guidelines for professional judgment. Students requesting consideration for any of these categories of adjustment should complete and sign the Request for Professional Judgment form, and submit it along with the required documentation to the Financial Aid Office.  A committee will review requests. The committee’s decision is final. Students are notified by email of the committee’s decision. Students submitting requests for professional judgments should allow 3-4 weeks for a response.

Adjustments to Estimated Family Contributions

The Financial Aid Office may recalculate a student/parent’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for educational expenses if the student can document that he or she (or parent, if dependent; spouse, if married), has had a change in financial circumstances due to any of the 8 reasons listed below.

Students may request an adjustment to their EFC for conditions/reasons listed below. Required documents listed below may not be the only documents needed, once the Professional Judgment has been reviewed.

1. Death of a parent or the independent student's spouse

Required Documents:
> A copy of the death certificate
> W2’s and current federal tax returns for student or for surviving parent

2. Loss of employment by independent student/spouse/parent (for at least 3 months)

Required Documents:
> Letter from previous employer on company letterhead stating:
         Last day of employment and reason for unemployment
         Earnings up to the last day of employment
> Copy of current 1040
> Statement from Unemployment Office stating benefits and beginning and ending dates
> Retirement pay statement if applicable

3. Loss of earnings due to disability

Required Documents:
> A letter from physician stating the nature and date of the disability
> Earnings up to the last day of employment

4. Loss of non-taxed income and benefits

Required Documents:
> Documentation certifying loss of benefits or non-taxed income

5. Divorce or legal separation of parent or student

Required Documents:
> A copy or the Divorce Decree and/or a letter from the attorney stating date of separation
> W2’s and current federal tax returns for Independent student or supporting parent

6. One time income (inheritance, IRA distribution, retroactive lump-sum payment, etc.)

Required Documents:
> Documentation of one-time income including type and dollar amount
> Statement and receipts showing how funds were spent, invested, or rolled over

7. Non-elective medical or dental expense not covered by insurance

Required documents:
> Current Federal Tax Return, Schedule A-Itemized Deductions AND/OR
> Receipts of medical and dental payments NOT covered by insurance, if the Federal Tax Return was not itemized
   Highlight amount of payments made and provide itemized totals on non-reimbursed amounts that have already been paid

8. Elementary and secondary education tuition

Required document:
> Copy of receipt from elementary/secondary school for this academic year

ALL Professional Judgments must be submitted with all required Verification forms and a copy of current IRS Tax Return Transcript for both parent and/or student. Please check with the Financial Aid Administrator for a list of forms. Federal guidelines require that the aid administrator verifies and corrects any information on FAFSA forms before a Professional Judgment can be reviewed.

It is the policy of the Financial Aid Office to use Professional Judgment to make adjustments to the Expected Family Contribution beginning July 1st for the upcoming award year. Accuracy in income projection(s) is very important. It is College policy to not process future adjustments for students who underestimate their household income by more than 15% for an adjustment calculation. For adjustments to income processed after January 1 of the award year, students and parents are asked to provide current tax forms and W-2s.

Processing time can be up to two weeks, or longer during peak times in the year. Professional Judgments are processed in date order.

Dependency Override

A dependency override occurs when a financial aid administrator exercises professional judgment and overrides the Department of Education’s criteria for dependent students. An override may only be granted on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual & exceptional circumstances.  These circumstances must show compelling reason for a student to be considered independent rather than dependent. In addition, dependency overrides need to be approved each year.

Conditions that COULD warrant a Dependency Override
The following are some examples of conditions that could warrant a dependency override:

  • Documented abandonment
  • Parental drug abuse
  • Parental mental incapacity
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Severe estrangement from parents
  • Parental Incarceration

Conditions that DO NOT Warrant a Dependency Override
By Federal Law, the following conditions do not warrant a dependency override:

  • Parents refuse to provide information on the FAFSA application or for verification
  • Parents do not claim student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Parents unwilling or unable to contribute to student’s education
  • Student demonstrates self-sufficiency
  • Student is reluctant to request the income information from parents
  • Student does not wish to communicate with parents

Financial Aid Policy at CPCC requires students seeking a dependency override to complete the CPCC Dependency Override Appeal.  Decisions made at other institutions are not accepted.

Students should complete the Dependent Override form if they are considered a dependent student for federal financial aid and believe they have compelling, extenuating circumstances which should allow them to be considered an independent student. Return completed forms with the required documentation to the Office of Financial Aid. Due to the sensitive nature of these circumstances, all documentation received by the Financial Aid office is kept confidential.